In the Bible the word church is a translation of the Greek word ekklesia , meaning “a calling out.” It never refers to a building or meeting place, but always to people, the ones “called out” of the world’s society by God calling them into His service. The Church of the Bible is not a cold, stone building, but a group of warm and loving people specially chosen by God.
In the Scriptures church can refer to the group of believers in a particular location, such as a city or region, or to the entire body of believers God has called.
So a building with no worshipers cannot really be a church in the biblical sense. The New Testament Church is a group of people called out of this world’s society by God, even if they meet in a rented hall or on a grassy hillside. For example, the apostle Paul greeted the church—the congregation of people—that met in the house of Priscilla and Aquila in Rome (Romans 16:3-5 Romans 16:3-5 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the first fruits of Achaia to Christ.
American King James Version×).
What are the roots, the history, of the Church? What sets apart people whom God calls His own? How does God use the Church to achieve His purposes? What does the Church do for us, and what should its members do for the Church? How can we be part of what God is doing through His Church?
When Jesus said, “… I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18 Matthew 16:18And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
American King James Version×), He was saying the Church—His chosen people—would not die out. It would be alive-a warm and caring body of believers striving to serve God, do His work and support each other. Today, with so many conflicting doctrines and practices, how can we recognize the Church Jesus built?
In this lesson let’s learn what the Bible teaches about God’s Church and what it means for us.